Have you ever wondered what would happen if two hyphenated last namers got married? Like, let’s say Harrison VonHarrison-Lundquist married Muffy Worcester-Wolfe. (All names are completely fabricated. If anyone out there has either of those names, I’m sorry…in so many ways.) Would they name their children Maximillian and Genevieve VonHarrisonlundquist-Worcesterwolfe???
Notice the last names I’ve fabricated. Not so very ethnic, are they? Jews don’t hyphenate. Take me, for instance. My maiden name is Rabinowitz, my married name is Friedman. I considered hyphenating for about twelve seconds. And then I realized I’d be Nancy Rabinowitz-Friedman; I might as well introduce myself has Nancy Double-Jew. Twice the guilt!! Twice the neuroses! So when I got married I just decided to get rid of my middle name, Jean, and replace it with my maiden name. That way, the clerk explained, I would legally be able to use either my maiden name or my married name. If I hyphenated, he told me, I would always have to use both names. Quite a mouthful, don’t you think?
For a moment there, I considered going with a one-name moniker:: Madonna, Cher, Bjork, Elmo. I tried Nan – but that sounded like a pug-nosed, perky cheerleader. And I feel pretty confident with my big-nosed, sarcastic, pessimist persona. I thought I could take my new initials, NRF, and call myself Nerf. Only that sounded like a squishy ball, and frankly, I didn’t need any name-based reminders of my physique.
Maybe my husband and I should have combined our names to create a new one. We could have been the Friedowitz family, or my personal favorite, the Rabinimans. Then again, maybe not.
So I stuck with the old switcheroo – sometimes one name, sometimes the other.
What’s in a name? A lot. If there weren’t, there wouldn’t be websites devoted to helping us choose names for our kids, or forums online for women deciding whether or not to give up their maiden names. Hilary Rodham Clinton wouldn’t be, well, Hilary Rodham Clinton. She’d be Hilary Clinton or Hilary Rodham. Not both. Names are complicated. Maybe that’s why Elizabeth Taylor never changed hers. Imagine if she had, she’d be Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky. (I think she stayed Taylor not for the celebrity, but because somewhere in her mind she knew she’d one day marry a man named Fortensky – and she just couldn’t bear to called that.)
Once we had kids, it got a bit complicated, but I figured it out. Generally, anything professional – writing, producing – I used Rabinowitz. Personally, I used Friedman, since I wanted to share a name with my kids. Aside from getting doubles of every catalogue in the universe, it’s worked out pretty well for the past 12 years.
But this fall, when I decided to publish as Nancy Friedman for the first time. I don’t know why I did it. I guess I just figured that at this point, I’ve pretty much stopped working, and most of the people I know, know me as Nancy Friedman. So why not publish that way? Plus, I think it kinda bugged my husband that everything else I’d ever written had been under my maiden name. And I wanna keep him happy.
Now is where the giveaway kicks in (yep, you had to read this far to find it!). I’m giving away two copies of the new anthology See Mom Run, edited by Role Mommy Founder Beth Feldman. It’s a collection of essays by moms…including me. And it’s really, really, funny. I promise. Just leave a comment below with your “dancer name” for a chance to win. What’s a dancer name? It’s the name of your first pet, follwed by the name of the street you grew up on. If you were a stripper, it would be the name you’d dance under — hence “dance name.” I’d be Honey Whig.
Hey — maybe I should publish under that next time!
Contest ends Friday, January 29th at 11pm. Must be 18 years or older. US residents only. Two winners will be announced Saturday, Jan 30th.